When West Ham United decided to demolish its 112 year old Upton Park stadium, maybe you wanted to protest or pronounce good riddance. Instead, Producer Marc Goldberg conceptualized “Diehard in a football stadium”. The Brothers Lynch quickly put together a script, and in Feb-2016, Scott Mann signed up to direct a movie that had to be shot within 6 months, before the stadium went to pieces.
Sometimes I find the backstory on how a movie comes together is more interesting than the film itself. Not in this case. Its unusual developmental history is just a plus, and Final Score is a rocking good time.
In the story, American former soldier Michael Knox (Dave Bautista) visits his fallen colleague’s family and takes Danni the teenage daughter to a West Ham game. However, unbeknownst to the fans, the Russian bad guy Dimitri (Pierce Brosnan) and his crew have locked everyone inside the stadium so that they can capture Dimitri’s brother. Separated from his charge Danni, Knox enlists a stadium steward to find her. Instead they discover the Russian plot. Knox starts whittling down the bad guys and trying to find Danni before the Russians blow up the stadium at the 90th minute.
Real action for real action heroes
With a $20M budget and former WWE behemoth Dave Bautista to the rescue, the film has old time real action just like Bruce Willis in Die Hard and Jean-Claude van Damme in Sudden Death. There is a lot of mayhem and gore in the fight scenes. Russian bad guy Dimitri ruthlessly kills a lot of innocents, about 10x more often than Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Motorcycles chase through the concourses. Knox hangs from the stadium on a torn banner. That’s a real person. And when Knox drives the motorcycle off the roof of the stadium, a stunt double really is driving off the roof of the stadium.
Stadium Steward Faisal (Amit Shah) is the ethnic sidekick who balances the bloody mayhem with occasional injections of levity. SPOILER ALERT: When Steward Faisal needs to clear the stand where the C4 has been heavily planted, the fans yell “FO, Paki”. The only way he can get them to leave their seats is by yelling that he has a bomb.
I believe the soccer in the film is from the last home game of West Ham vs ManU, May 10, 2016. The crowd is digitally inserted for most of the film. Which of course is why they don’t notice all the killing, shooting, motorcycles, and explosions going on during the game!
Of course, you have to overlook a number of plot holes like that. But Bautista is fun to watch, like an over-size Bruce Willis but not cocky. Just efficient. His soft side is warm and lovable and is willing to sacrifice his life for other humans. And he likes hot dogs. In interviews, Bautista said he avoided action heroes for a long time because of his fear of typecasting. But now that he has established his actor side in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, he took this opportunity to play an action hero.
I personally would be glad to see Bautista become an action hero franchise. Maybe if your soccer stadium or team is in danger of being demolished, you should tell him and Scott Mann.
Other little notes
And a couple more things: during the 3 months of shooting, the crew actually lived in the stadium. The suites were turned into dressing rooms and bedrooms. Pretty cool. Oh, and Dave Bautista is happy to admit that he knows nothing about soccer and doesn’t really follow any sport except wrestling and boxing.
Faisal is named after the actual steward who showed the crew the ins and outs of the stadium. And lastly, I almost forgive Scott Mann for punching out the only Asian in the film with the cry, “It’s football not soccer!”. Almost.
8 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 8